Blogs > Tuned in to Pop Culture

They’re not standing around the watercooler, but Cheryl Sadler, Mark Meszoros, Mark Podolski and Nicole Franz are talking about what they’ve been watching, listening to and playing during their free time.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Nothing like getting into new music

"Tuned Into Pop Culture" guest contributor Nick Carrabine is a News-Herald staff writer.



As a huge music lover, there is nothing better than getting acquainted with a talented artist or band.

It doesn't matter which genre, I'm always looking to get into different things.

In the past month, I’ve came across two experimental hip hop artists that have been around the block for a while, but have been buried in the underground scene.

Both artists, Atmosphere and P.o.s. are from Minnesota and are on Rhymesayers Entertainment, which is a record label out of Minnesota.

Atmosphere is a duo that released their first album, Overcast in 1997. Since then, the group has released nine more studio albums and EPs including 2008’s “When Life Hands You Lemons,” LP which debuted at No. 5 on the billboard charts upon it’s release, their most successful offering to date by far.

P.o.s. has released three albums, with his latest release in February titled, “Never Better.”

The other two albums, “Ipecac Neat” and “Audition,” are extremely hard to find in stores (but can be purchased on iTunes.)

Never Better’s first single, “Optimist” has been in heavy rotation on MTV2.

Now, what caught my attention of these two musicians?

First off, anyone who knows me knows that I think hip hop music died a long time ago (long before my favorite rapper Nas released Hip Hop is Dead in 2006.)

In an era of gun-toting, womanizing, bling-wearing, money-bragging, club-hopping, ego-tripping and a ridiculous obsession of material items, both Atmosphere and P.o.s. bring a fresh view to the music scene.

Both of them can be classified in other genres other than hip-hop and both of them actually talk about things the majority of listeners around the world can relate to.

P.o.s., whose real name is Stefon Alexander, actually began as a punk rock musician and remains loyal to his roots while he raps over guitar riffs and drum loops.

The same could be said for Atmosphere, who tours with a live band and is inspired by many rock acts.

Both of them have toured on the punk rock themed Warped Tour in past years.

If you are looking for something different, honest and creative, give Atmosphere and P.O.S. a shot.

You Tube it:

P.o.s. covering Pearl Jam’s “Why Go”

Atmosphere performing “You” on Late Show with David Letterman

Monday, March 30, 2009

Who's the most famous performer you've seen?

"Tuned Into Pop Culture" guest contributor John Bertosa is The News-Herald's city editor.

About once or twice a year I am reminded that I will never get to see a famous performer do their thing in person.

When Pink Floyd Richard Wright keyboardist died in 2008 so did my chances of ever being there for one of the most spectacular stadium shows ever.And I was filled with regret when I learned that Blues legend Robert Lockwood Jr. had died after performing regularly in a Cleveland restaurant -- if only I had known he was doing it.

So,when I heard that Little Richard was coming to town as part of the Moondog Coronation Ball on Saturday at the Q, I decided I would not be tossing another regret onto the pile.

While I appreciate "Oldies" rock,I almost never have it on the radio. But this wasn't about music, this was about seeing a performer that has become ingrained in the pop culture of America. The flamboyant rock-n-roller is one of the last remaining vestiges from Rock's first heyday in mid 1950s.

And I wasn't disappointed.

Little Richard took the stage after Jerry Butler and Three Dog Night and before Herman's Hermits and Tommy James.I was very worried at first as the 76-year-old was rolled out in a wheelchair but though he was having problems with his legs, his fingers still mastered the piano and his voice still howled out his famous tunes like "Tuttie Frutti" and "Lucille."

I was also struck at how today's performances are so much more choreographed than they were "back in the day." After getting settled in, Little Richard refused to start playing until the big video screens were shut off, but then after the first song he relented and said they could go back on.And there were times during an instrumental solo he would start talking to people in the front row.

So now I can tell the future generations "Yeah, I saw Little Richard... he was a famous rock'n'roll, not like Clay Aiken... moron!"

You'll notice on this blog screen a section for posting comments and I want to hear about who were the most famous performers you've ever seen.Anyone lucky enough to be in the stands for the Beatles and Elvis? Sinatra and Miles Davis?

- John Bertosa

I won't be shuffling along

I'll preface this by saying I haven't actually visited my local Apple store to test the new ipod shuffle.

Don't have to.

Apple's newest creation, the latest and third version of its popular ipod shuffle is the smallest yet.

It looks great, and can store up to 1,000 songs with 4 GB of memory. Considering its size, that's impressive.

What makes this generation different is that it talks to you, although those who have tried it say the voice isn't the most inspirational when you're at the gym trying to get through that last mile.

The feature is called VoiceOver. Apple says the feature "speaks for itself." With the press of a button, VoiceOver tells you what song is playing and who's performing it. Pretty cool stuff.

Even more, it's pretty affordable at $79.

Here's where I say no. Have you ever used the earphones or earbuds included with Apple's ipods? The cords are way too short and for those who exercise, run, lift, etc., they don't take too kindly to sweat.

Replacing them is inevitable, and therein lies the problem with the new shuffle. The controls are located on the cord. Guess what if you lose and need to replace it? You're at the mercy of replacing it only through Apple.

In case you haven't been to an Apple store or visiting them online, replacement parts and accessories can be expensive.

Apple says small is the new big when referring to the new shuffle. Do yourself a favor and save your money. The second generation of the shuffle, which retails for a very affordable $49, is perfectly fine.

- Mark Podolski

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Ten in the morning: TV shows

Ten in the morning counts down the best shows currntly on TV (reality shows aren't allowed):

10. "Greek" - Yes, laugh now. This is a guilty pleasure of mine and my wife let me hear it when I first started watching this clever ABC Family show about fraternity life at an Ohio college. Guess what? She can't wait until season 3 starts! It's next Monday, if you're wondering.

9. "Smallville" - The long-running show about a young Clark Kent (Tom Welling) is getting close to showing the first-ever appearance of Supermnan (really, what's taking so long?). Sometimes, episodes drag, but it's still solid from week to week.

8. "Family Guy" - It still provides plenty of laughs, but the writing has become a bit stale. Still, for me all it takes is one appearance by the Griffin's neighbor Quagmire to get me laughing again. Pure mindless fun, which is welcome once a week.

7. "Nip/tuck" - There's never a dull moment with TV's most popular plastic surgeons Sean McNamara (Dylan Walsh) and Christian Troy (Julian McMahon). That's especially true of Troy, who's found himself in a bit a dilemma, now that it's been discovered he doesn't have cancer after all. Will we see the old Christian Troy back? Odds are pretty good on yes.

6. "Lost" - Thank goodness those annoying time-travel scenes are over (hopefully). With everyone now back on the island (if I'm spoiling it for you, sorry, you should have been watching) in the year 1977, it will be interesting where this storyline plays out.

5. "Bones" - Seeley Booth (David Boreanz) and Temperance "Bones" Brennan (Emily Deschane) will reportedly take their relationship to the next level in this season's finale. I'm a bit nervous about that, but until then it's still must-see TV.

4. "Chuck" - The ongoing story of geek-squad employee of the Buy More Chuck Bartowski(Zachary Levi) turned government spy is addicting, but it's more than just Chuck that carries the show. Clever storylines each week and a hilarious ensemble cast at the Buy More are what fuels the show each week.

3. "30 Rock" - Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Tracy Morgan and Co. provide the best quirky 30-minute storylines you'll find on TV. And you'll laugh every minute of the way.

2. "Damages" - This isn't your typical TV drama about a bunch of snobby New York lawyers. It's way more than that. It's suspense at its best. Never thought the writers of this show could outdo season 1, but season 2, which has just two episodes left, has been awesome. Glenn Close as lead character Patty Hewes is fantastic.

1. "Rescue Me" - Because of the writers' strike, the FX show hasn't been on air for a while, but don't forget about this in-depth drama about New York firefighter Tommy Gavin (Dennis Leary) and his struggles post 9-11. Watched a preview of the season 5's first nine episodes and fans of this show will not be disappointed.

- Mark Podolski

Monday, March 23, 2009

Oh, baby!

Oh, sweet irony.

Writers for the CBS sitcom "How I Met Your Mother" are being forced to work on the fly this season thanks to impending motherhood for its two lead actresses.

Both Alyson Hannigan and Cobie Smulders are pregnant and due this spring. While Hannigan and Smulders each are IS expecting their HER first child, you, faithful viewer, can expect that the pregnancies won't be acknowledged on screen with their "HIMYM" alteregos ALTER EGOS, Lily Aldrin and Robin Scherbatsky. The actresses told “Entertainment Tonight” last month that no plans have been made for their pregnancies to become part of the show's storylines.

Actresses working (or, in some cases, not working) through pregnancies is nothing new. Julia Louis-Dreyfus was put behind counters and in baggy clothes as Elaine Benes for much of a season of "Seinfeld" before giving birth to her second child in 1997. Mariska Hargitay took maternity leave from her role as Olivia Benson on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" in 2006, with Connie Nielsen temporarily filling in as a partner for Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni).

But TWO lead actresses pregnant at the same time on the same show? This is rare territory. For the most part, "HIMYM" taken a straight-forward, "nothing-to-see-here-folks" approach, keeping both actresses in baggy clothing or always seated in a booth at the gang's favorite bar, MacLaren's.

But they've had a little bit of fun with the situation too. During an episode last month titled "The Possimpible," Hannigan's baby bump made a cameo when, in a flashback scene, Lily won a hot dog-eating contest (Hannigan mentioned in the "ET" article that more hijinks could be in the works this season). No such baby bump moments yet for Smulders' character, but don't put it past "HIMYM" to work it in somehow.

In the meantime, you can enjoy "How I Met Your Mother" at a special time tonight, with a new episode airing at 8 p.m. on WOIO. A rerun will then follow at 8:30, the show's normal timeslot.

- Tom Valentino

Monday, March 16, 2009

Even for "Family Guy," this went a bit too far

"Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane is never afraid to toe the line - so to speak - when it comes to sensitive subjects.

Over the years, the show has poked fun at A-list celebrities, religion, politics, AIDS ... you name it. Nothing is off-limits for this clever and hilarious cartoon show.

The reason they have been able to do it is because it's funny. Simple as that. But "Family Guy" is not for everyone. It's certainly not a kids show, either. Especially if you watched the March 15th episode.

If you missed it, main character Peter Griffin meets and befriends none other than O.J. Simpson, setting up an ending anyone could have predicted. Just guessing here, but most of America had to be scratching their collective heads afterward thinking, "Did you really have to go there?"

At least that's what I was thinking.

A quick rundown of the episode: Peter claims a prize he won way back in 1989, a round of golf with O.J., and before playing the round his friends concoct a way to get Simpson to confess to the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, of which he was acquitted in 1994.

O.J. finds out Peter's ploy and is disappointed in his playing partner. Peter takes sympathy on O.J. and spends the rest of the episode convincing the town of Quahog that O.J. isn't a bad guy after all.

In the hit-or-miss aspect of TV comedy, "Family Guy" hardly ever misses. This episode was a big miss. Making matters worse, the episode ends with the town's residents now convinced O.J. isn't a bad guy, thanks in part to Peter. O.J. then pulls out a knife, stabs two people, chops another's head off and runs away.

Even for "Family Guy," that was way beyond poor taste.

Let's hope the show hasn't officially jumped the shark.

- Mark Podolski

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Oh Sega, where have you been!?!?

I've found my cure for the video-game blues.
The blues as in, "I can't justify paying hundreds of dollars for PlayStation 3."
I simply dusted off my old Sega Genesis.
Let the Sega-fest begin!
The fact that I still own a Sega Genesis is amazing in itself. While re-arranging the junk in my basement, I stumbled across a box labeled, "Sega Genesis." In it was NHL 94 by EA Sports.
Talk about Christmas in March!
I felt as though I was Indiana Jones unearthing a priceless treasure. Didn't know I still had it. In a way, I feel like I've abandoned an old friend for years.
Yes, I have deep feelings for my Sega Genesis. Don't understand? Ask any guy who went to college in the early to mid 1990s.
Before there was PlayStation 3 or XBox, there was the Sega Genesis. If you were addicted to sports video games, you owned a Sega Genesis.
My game of choice? NHL 94, possibly the greatest sports video game ever created.
There's a Web site - - devoted to the game. It's that good.
Can't explain it. Kids, play it just once. It' s addictive, and still holds its own today.
Ask your dad, uncle, teacher or coach. Chances are decent one of them probably played a Sega Genesis sports video game, perhaps even NHL 94.
The legend continues.
- Mark Podolski

Friday, March 6, 2009

Carolla aces first week on iTunes

"The Ace Man" - as Adam Carolla is known by his massive fanbase - is currently out of work, but don't feel too bad for one of the funniest entertainers out there.

Carolla, who made a name for himself as a co-host of the radio call-in show "Loveline," a co-creator of "The Man Show" with Jimmy Kimmel and a co-creator of "Crank Yankers," spent the past five years in radio as the host of his own show, "The Adam Carolla Show" in Los Angeles.

On Feb. 20, Carolla broadcasted his final show on KLSX, a CBS affiliate that decided to change formats, leaving Carolla without a job, but not a paycheck. Carolla said he will be paid the remainder of his contract, which has 10 months left, as long as he does not take another job.

So, in the meantime, Carolla is podcasting on his Web site - - and the results have been astounding. Carolla said hits for his podcasts, which began Feb. 23, have reached a million per episode. The podcast is currently the No. 1 podcast on iTunes.

Why is it No. 1? It's simple. Carolla is damn funny. His unique voice and regular-guy view of life is relatable to everyone. He's the common man's voice for every man - with an edge.

His new podcast has attracted the likes of comedian David Allen Grier and ESPN's "Sports Guy" Bill Simmons. Carolla says he wants to conduct the podcast with the feel he's in his bathrobe sipping on a glass of wine. Mission accomplished.

It's uncertain what project Carolla will be undertaking 10 months from now - he says he has a TV show in the works - but this much is certain: The Adam Carolla Podcast, available on iTunes, is must-listen podcasting.

-- Mark Podolski